Coyote Gulch's Colorado Water
The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. -- Luna Leopold

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Project Healing Waters

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

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From the Salida Citizen (Trey Beck): "In a work session during which no time was given over to public questions, the Chaffee County Planning Commission today heard details of the application by Nestlé Waters for their proposed local water project. Plans by Nestlé Waters in Chaffee County include the development of two adjacent springs, the installation of a pipeline for delivery of spring water to a loading facility in Johnson Village and truck transport of the spring water to a bottling facility in Denver."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
7:57:45 PM    

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From the Montrose Daily Press: "Preserving the river corridor was one of the most important objectives stated by the community during the 2008 Comprehensive Plan update process -- so, the city is getting to work on it. Montrose city staff presented its recommendations for a future river buffer ordinance to the community Wednesday during an open house at the Montrose Pavilion."

Category: Colorado Water
6:41:28 PM    

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan: "Several local agencies and law enforcement groups are teaming up to help people safely dispose of leftover prescription or over-the-counter medications. Operation Medicine Cabinet will be from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 at the Chilson Senior Center, 700 E. Fourth St."

Category: Colorado Water
6:31:10 PM    

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Here's an update on the Colorado Municipal League's efforts to use severance taxes to shore up water and wastewater infrastructure from the Haxtun-Fleming Herald (K.C. Mason). From the article:

A CML brochure states there are almost 450 communities throughout Colorado of fewer than 5,000 people needing a total of $750 million for water treatment projects.

Among the northeast Colorado communities on the list are Akron, Burlington, Eckley, Haxtun, Holyoke, Idalia, Julesburg, Merino, Sedgwick, Stratton, Wray and Yuma for wastewater treatment facilities; and Akron, Hillrose, Julesburg, Log Lane Village and Wiggins for drinking water facility improvements.

Adams County also has several special districts on the list, including Berkeley Water and Sanitation district, Eastern Adams County Metro District and North Washington Water Users Association.

Donna Davis, the chief fiscal officer for the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, said there has been no money in the small community grant program since 2006. At that time, the legislature approved $1.5 million for each of the drinking water and wastewater grant programs through the capitol development process.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:06:00 PM    

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From the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn): "Even though the Colorado Supreme Court last week rejected Summit County's ban on cyanide-based gold mining, no one is expecting a rush of mining applications any time soon. 'I think the chances are zero,' said Summit County Commissioner Bob French. The Supreme Court ruling theoretically leaves the door open for a cyanide mining operation, but French said the issue is not as pressing as it was in 2004, when the county approved the ban. 'It's the principle ... We don't want people to be allowed to do that kind of thing. It's not high on my priority list right now, but if someone wants to come in and open one, we'll start jumping up and down' French said.

"Given that heap-leach mining generally occurs on a large scale, with the piles of ore covering several acres, local officials said it's unlikely that there is a patch of land in Summit County that could be used for such an operation.'"

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:51:21 PM    

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Wiggins is still looking for a sustainable supply, according to a report from Dan Barker writing for the Fort Morgan Times. From the article:

Mayor Mike Bates said the town has the same four options discussed in the past few months:

- Buy water within the Kiowa basin and treat the water, while expecting to lose much of the water during the treatment process.

- Buy its own well outside the basin and pay to pipe it in.

- Buy treated water from Fort Morgan.

- Sign a contract with the Morgan County Quality Water District.

The problem with buying water from Fort Morgan is the high expense, Bates said. He said he had hoped to give the council a report on progress in water negotiations with Fort Morgan, but had not been able to schedule a meeting with Fort Morgan Mayor Jack Darnell or Fort Morgan City Manager Pat Merrill before the meeting...

Wiggins resident Bob Kopetzky said it was a "no-brainer" to go with Fort Morgan water, because it is already treated and Wiggins has to do little. He said other towns do buy water from bigger cities, such as Windsor buying from Fort Collins. Kopetzky is a Fort Morgan water treatment plant operator, but said he was not trying to sell Fort Morgan water, just trying to look at the best option as a Wiggins resident.

However, whether or not to go with Fort Morgan depends on what the city wants for water, Kopetzky said, adding it was frustrating not to know the cost. Another factor in buying Fort Morgan water is that Wiggins would either have to buy shares of Colorado-Big Thompson water or pay more for Fort Morgan to buy shares, Bates said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:28:18 PM    

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina): "A thorough 2009 budget assessment looked at operations of the water and sewer plant and concluded the town loses money with current rates, according to Hot Sulphur Town Clerk Sandra White. For this reason, the town's goal is to have a new rate structure in place by the second quarter, she said. Under town review is a change in how the town establishes its base rate and how it charges for water use overages. Residents of the town of Hot Sulphur Springs now pay a flat water rate of $192 per quarter, which includes water, sewer and water and sewer capital replacements. That rate applies to up to 15,000 gallons per quarter, but if more is used, a charge of $2.80 for each 1,000 gallons of overage is implemented."

Category: Colorado Water
5:21:48 PM    

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Here's the latest about State Engineer Dick Wolfe's plans for for an advisory committee to set up groundwater management rules in the San Luis Valley, from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

"The basis for the rules and regulations is going to be that basically you have to be in a sub-district or have an augmentation plan or your wells will be shut off," said Craig Cotten, Division of Water Resources Division III.

Although the court has approved the Valley's first water management sub-district, located in the closed basin area of the Valley, approval of the sub-district's management plan is still pending with the court. Other sub-districts throughout the Valley are on hold as their organizers wait to see what happens with the first water management sub-district.

Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) Attorney David Robbins anticipated District/Water Judge O. John Kuenhold would rule on the management plan by the end of this month but did not have any definite indication of when that ruling would come down. "I am hopeful," he said. Kuenhold held a trial last fall regarding the plan and heard closing arguments in December.

"It's obviously a very complicated case for him," Robbins said. "There are some pretty diametrically opposed views how the sub-district can and should function ... He understands as well as anyone that the other sub-districts are standing in the wings waiting until there is a clear legal standard that they are going to be able to identify and comply with. Hopefully we will hear from him soon."

Robbins said fellow attorney Ingrid Barrier has put in a significant amount of time drafting documents for subsequent sub-districts so they will be ready to move quickly once Judge Kuenhold's ruling is announced. Meanwhile, the delay in getting the first sub-district operational (and able to collect fees to support itself) is creating a financial strain on the sub-district's sponsoring organization, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. District Manager Steve Vandiver told his board this week that so far the sub-district efforts have cost the water district more than half a million dollars in engineering and legal fees as well as district staff time and other expenses. This represents a six-year effort so far, he explained.

Vandiver said while a court decision is still pending on the sub-district management plan, progress is moving forward on a CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) application that will help fund the sub-district. Vandiver said a pre-submission of the CREP application is currently drawing comments from Washington.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
5:16:06 PM    

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Here's a recap of Wednesday's meeting of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District where sales of Bessemer Ditch shares to the Pueblo Board of Water Works (and others) was discussed, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

"If we don't move now, the single most productive farmland in the state will be raped for generations to come," Mike Bartolo told the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District Wednesday. Bartolo, 46, is a fourth generation farmer on the Bessemer Ditch and owns only about 12 shares. His job at the Colorado State University Agriculture Research Center, where he has worked 18 years and been the head for four years, has taught him well what happens when water leaves the land, however. The station is on the Rocky Ford Ditch, the vast majority of which was purchased by Aurora in two rounds of sales in the early 1980s and late 1990s. "I've been through this rodeo before," Bartolo said. "This time, it's personal."

The Pueblo Board of Water Works is buying about 7,000 shares of the Bessemer Ditch, about 35 percent, at $10,150 per share. It sent out a letter this week explaining the sale and is planning a special meeting in March to answer questions. Ditch President Bob Centa said no shareholders have been forced to sell and the rights of non-sellers on the ditch will be protected...

Bartolo said he agreed with some of his neighbors - including Leonard Di-Tomaso, who is seeking a seat to represent non-sellers on the Bessemer board - that all of the options available to Bessemer shareholders have not been fully explained. Bartolo said he wants to form a Bessemer Alternative Coalition that would make sure shareholders receive fair compensation, are aware of other options like the Lower Ark's Super Ditch and bring together the people of Pueblo County to protect water interests...

[Alan Ward water resources manager for the Pueblo Board of Water Works] said the Pueblo water board tried an open approach to all shareholders at its failed attempt to buy a controlling interest in the Bessemer Ditch last year. This time, it went the other way, contacting some shareholders on parts of the ditch where it believed the purchases would be most beneficial to the water board...

Ward said the water board would work to change articles of incorporation and bylaws to use the water outside Bessemer Ditch boundaries, which could be a common purpose with those who want to participate in the Super Ditch...

Bartolo said most shareholders on the Bessemer Ditch have no idea they are eligible to participate in the Super Ditch, something he found out only after attending a meeting of the Super Ditch board on Tuesday. John Schweizer, a Rocky Ford farmer who is president of the Super Ditch, said there is nothing that prevents any farmer along the Bessemer Ditch from signing up shares for the Super Ditch. When the group incorporated last year, there were no takers from the Bessemer Ditch, although some representatives from the ditch participated in the meetings that led to incorporation...

"Water court only protects the people who have the resources to protect themselves," Bartolo said. "We don't."

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:40:35 AM    

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Here's a recap of this week's meeting of the Pueblo County Commissioners discussing Colorado Springs' proposed Southern Delivery System, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

At the end of a 90-minute presentation by county staff on the Bureau of Reclamation's environmental impact statement, construction issues, project design and monitoring, commissioners asked staff to get to more meaty issues like water quality, pipeline capacity, labor practices and monetary mitigation. "How do we resolve this?" Commissioner Anthony Nunez asked. "We need to move a little faster."[...]

Chairman Jeff Chostner directed the staff to contact the appropriate people working for Colorado Springs over the next three weeks to make substantial progress on unresolved issues before the next installment of county 1041 hearings on SDS that began in early December. Already, about 50 exhibits have been introduced in four hearings and additional information was gathered at four public meetings in advance of the hearings. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.

The "easy stuff" was, technically, not so easy. A report by consultants Banks & Gesso identified one environmental, 20 construction, four socioeconomic, one compliance and two operational conditions that would have to be met before construction could begin, if commissioners approve the project. Each section carried specific conditions that would have to be met, detailing everything from traffic control to revegetation. For instance, no area along the construction route could be shut down longer than four hours, a $2,000 per acre bond would be required for revegetation and if seeds are not commercially available - such as for rare plants on Walker ranches - they would have to be harvested on-site. The recommendations also include a $6.1 million bond for rebuilding roads in Pueblo West that would be damaged by heavy equipment hauling in pipe and fill material.

Under socioeconomics, the county staff is asking for input into design of the proposed Juniper Pump Station at the base of Pueblo Dam and reinforcement, in writing, of Colorado Springs' commitment to treat property owners fairly and use eminent domain as a last resort...

The use of new water rights to fill the pipeline is of particular concern, said consultant Alex Schatz, who reviewed lingering concerns county staff does not feel were adequately addressed by Reclamation in the EIS. The pipeline is designed to pump 78 million gallons per day out of Pueblo County, but Colorado Springs and its SDS partners are proposing to use only about two-thirds of the capacity. That opens the question of whether the pipeline could be used by northern El Paso County water users. If other water rights are brought into the pipeline than those listed in the EIS, another 15,000 acres of farmland in the Arkansas Valley could be dried up as a result, Schatz said. Additionally, there are questions of how to mitigate a 13 percent decrease in Arkansas River flows, a 35 percent increase in Fountain Creek flows and a 7 percent decrease in surface area on Lake Pueblo.

More coverage from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Pueblo County officials Wednesday night laid out more than 115 conditions Colorado Springs Utilities will need to meet to get their approval of a $1.1 billion water pipeline called the Southern Delivery System...

Utilities will have to return Feb. 11 for a fifth time since the hearings began in December to hear Pueblo County's requirements on potentially thornier issues, including water levels in Pueblo Reservoir; water quality on Fountain Creek; how much Utilities should spend to mitigate impacts to Fountain Creek; management of Arkansas River flows below the dam; and Utilities' labor practices. Consultants working for Pueblo County said they have significant concerns on those "unresolved technical issues." "We are talking about a very large project and we need to be concerned about its impact," said Ray Petros, a water attorney working for Pueblo County...

Utilities officials saw the approval conditions for the first time Wednesday night...

Among the proposed requirements are for Utilities to:

- Create 14.3 acres of wetlands along Fountain Creek and redirect 1,295 linear feet of channel, to reduce sedimentation and flooding threat.

- Limit releases from Williams Creek Reservoir into Fountain Creek to 300 cubic feet per second.

- Ensure property owners will be fairly compensated for having the pipeline cross their land, and that eminent domain - by which governments can force property owners to sell - will be used as a last resort.

- Limit work to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

- Grade disturbed land and replace vegetation.

- Keep Pueblo County residents informed of construction through a Web site and public information officer.

- Minimize impact of dust from construction.

- Utilize sustainable, or "green" construction practices.

- Allow Pueblo County to help design the pump station at Pueblo Reservoir.

- Report quarterly on its compliance with the permit.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Category: Colorado Water
6:30:34 AM    

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